Steam Stripping – Modular Systems for Cleaning Plant Wastewater

Koch Modular Process Systems specializes in the design and construction of complete modular process systems, including steam stripping of organic contaminants from plant wastewater streams. At Koch Modular, we can provide process performance guaranteed modular systems with single source responsibility, all on a lump sum fixed-price basis. We design and build modular systems to our customers product specifications and project standards.  Koch Modular’s stream stripping systems have flexibility built into the design to process a range of organic contaminants in the feed stream.

Koch Modular can also provide process design studies, pilot testing solutions, laboratory testing, vapor-liquid equilibrium (VLE) development and complete process design engineering packages (PDP). For custom setups, check out the steam stripping pilot plant testing page.

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Understanding Steam Stripping Column Design

Steam is injected into the bottom of the Steam Stripping Column to strip the organic contaminants from plant wastewater in order to meet guidelines for Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards set by the EPA. The organics and steam collect at the top of the stripping column and are then condensed and separated via a decanter. The condensed steam is then refluxed to the top of the stripper column.

Our modular designs provide added advantages for the steam stripping process by reducing cost and increasing plant safety by offloading the construction to a safer offsite module construction shop. Also, because of the modular construction, turnaround time from purchase to implementation is reduced due to the ability to construct during permit process.

What Is Steam Stripping and How Does It Work?

Also known as steam distillation, steam stripping is an affordable one step method to clean plant wastewater streams. The distillation process typically uses stripping gas to continuously remove hydrocarbons from dischargeable waste waters in multiple stages. It is important to note that these processes must also meet the latest PEG (Pharmaceutical Effluent Guidelines), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and NESHAP regulations, including Miscellaneous Organic NESHAP (MON), Hazardous Organic  NESHAP (HON), and Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT).

It is easy to strip organic contaminants by steam stripping if the organics have lower boiling points than water or have limited solubility in water. The organic contaminants are removed from the modular system in the form of a concentrated distillate stream. It is not uncommon for this contaminant stream to be a mixture of many compounds. Furthermore, it is usually desirable to minimize the volume of this distillate because it is often sent off-site for disposal or incineration.

Waste minimization is achieved by providing greater separation between the water phase and organic phase.  This is accomplished by first condensing and then decanting the overhead product from the column to separate the water phase and the insoluble organic phase, with subsequent refluxing of the water phase from the decanter to the top of the stripping column. It is common to run the steam stripping process through several rectification stages and/or add reflux to the steam stripping column when stripped organics are soluble in water. This also helps reduce the water content of the organic contaminant distillate stream. The organic contaminants can then be drawn off as a liquid product for recycling purposes or disposal, or as a vapor product that is fed to a thermal oxidizer.

Common Steam Stripper Applications


  • Methanol
  • Butanol
  • Ethanol
  • Amyl Alcohol
  • Propanols


  • Acetone
  • Methyl Ester Ketone (MEK)
  • Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK)


  • Benzene
  • Styrene
  • Ethylbenzene
  • Toluene
  • Cumene
  • Naphthalenes
  • Xylenes
  • Alphamethyl Styrene


  • Hexane
  • Heptane
  • Cyclohexane
  • Iso-octane


  • Methyl Acetate
  • Ethyl Acetate
  • Propyl and Butyl Acetates
  • Amylacetate

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons

  • Methylene Chloride
  • Chloroform
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Ethylene Dichloride (dichloromethane)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)


In addition to the aforementioned effluences, Koch Modular Process Systems also has steam stripping experience with the following:

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Acetonitrile
  • Ammonia
  • Dioxane
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
  • Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN)
  • Isopropyl Ether
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Tetrohydrofuran (THF)